Der Phantastische Film

The Halloween season reminded me of a film series on television I really enjoyed when I was a kid. This series was called Der Phantastische Film (The Fantastic Film) and was broadcasted on ZDF, one of the major public tv stations in Germany. Back then there were only a hand full of channels available: three public tv stations, and perhaps one or two Dutch channels as well. The private, commercial, pay-tv, music- or other specialized channels followed many years later in the mid to late 80s.

Der Phantastische Film was a film series of bizarre, utopian, horror, vampire, sci-fi, fantasy or other films that fit into this genre. Classics in black and white, or films from the 60s, 70s or 80s, a huge variety found a place there. I discovered films like Zardoz with Sean Connery, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, the Vincent Price classics, the original version of The Fly, the original pre-Carpenter version of The Thing from Another World, Planet of the Apes or This Island Earth. Every film opened with a trailer that for quite some time scared the hell out of me so much I had to hide under my blanket.

Not knowing anything about this trailer I had no hope I would ever find it again, but YouTube once again did not disappoint. Even today, after all these years, I find it quite bizzare. Not exactly shocking or horrifying anymore, but dark-psychedelic. It shares a visual look of other illustrations and animations of the era. It reminds a little of The Yellow Submarine. And indeed, interestingly, this trailer was created by the same illustrator who also created the The Yellow Submarine: Heinz Edelmann.

Heinz Edelmann was a graphic designer who worked as illustrator for a magazine twen for more than ten years. His portfolio also includes a lot of book covers for the Klett publishing company. Klett was the prominent publisher of schoolbooks and other specialized print products. I would have never even thought of linking The Yellow Submarine with the schoolbooks we had at that time, but I remember so many illustrations sharing a common beautiful, simple and somewhat innocent look & feel, including a traffic-teaching-kit I played with in Kindergarten age, some brochures of the German Railways, packaging, schoolbook covers & illustrations and more. I had no idea that a single artist was responsible for all this. Amazing how influential Heinz Edelmann was for shaping a whole generation’s childhood and yet remain so quiet and anonymous. I wonder if there is a way to get my hands on the old books of that era or a collection of his works.

Below is a small and probably incomplete list of films presented as part of the fantastic film series. This series started in the 70s, and there must have been more movies in the period between 1975 and 1982. There have been quite a few good (and also bad) movies that once influenced and shook my childhood…Maybe it’s time for a video-night one day.

  • Tarantula (1955)
  • The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
  • Crack in the World (1965)
  • X (1963)
  • THX 1138 (1971)
  • The Andromeda Strain (1971)
  • Soylent Green (1973)
  • Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
  • Student von Prag, Der (1913)
  • Village of the Damned (1960)
  • The Thing from Another World (1951)
  • This Island Earth (1955)
  • The Time Machine (1960)
  • Phase IV (1974)
  • Belle et la bête, La (1946)
  • Izbavitelj (1976)
  • The Premature Burial (1962)
  • The Raven (1963)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971)
  • Locataire, Le (1976)
  • Nella stretta morsa del ragno (1971)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • Time After Time (1979)
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
  • The Night Walker (1964)
  • Planet of the Apes (1968)
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
  • Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
  • The War of the Worlds (1953)
  • Zardoz (1974)
  • Without Warning (1980)
  • House of Wax (1953)
  • Them! (1954)
  • Doctor X (1932)
  • House of the Long Shadows (1983)
  • Au rendez-vous de la mort joyeuse (1973)
  • The Devil Rides Out (1968)
  • Chamber of Horrors (1966)
  • Tre volti della paura, I (1963)
  • Elixiere des Teufels, Die (1976)
  • Bay Coven (1987) (TV)
  • Horror Express (1973)